Sunday, July 31, 2016

Must Have School Supply if your Children Make INBs During the School Year

First of all I know some of you are wondering what in the world a INB is.  It is an Interactive Notebook.  Many middle school and high school classes use these.  Basically the students use a five subject notebook to paste in all of their handouts and notes and anything they need for the class.

The one problem with INBs is they get huge and take a beating.  It is very important to have a really good five subject notebook.  Otherwise, your kid will spend half the year trying to tape theirs back together.

My kids started using the Mead Five Star Advanced line of 5 subject notebooks when my oldest went to middle school for all their INBs.  These notebooks hold up for the entire year without breaking a sweat.  They are the best notebook ever!  I'm serious.  What makes them so much better than the rest of the spiral notebooks?  Two things, vinyl on the front and  back and a cloth cover over they wire spiral.

Now having said all that, they aren't cheap.  They are typically about $8 each.  And...they can be a bit hard to find.  You have to know where to look at each store for them and be a bit persistent until you find them.  In fact, throughout the year when I happen to be in the office supply section of any box store if I see one of these babies I grab it and stash it for the next school year.

You can find the Mead Five Star Advanced Five Subject Notebooks at Target and Walmart, I know.  Sometimes they are in the special school supply section and sometimes they are over with the regular school and office supplies.  Wherever they are they will have maybe a half a dozen of them if you are lucky and they will be hiding near the rest of the other spiral bound notebooks.  Amazon does have them but they are double the price so don't even bother.  Oh, on the Target website it will tell you if your local store has them and what aisle they are on.  According to the website all of the Targets near us currently have them in stock.

I'm telling you, run, don't walk and buy these precious guys now!  You will be sad if you don't.  I currently have six of them in my stash.  I have no idea how many my kids will need this year, but I'm ready.  And yes, I waited to post this until I had all I needed.  I didn't want there to be a rush on them and not be able to find them. I kid, kindof.


Friday, July 29, 2016

30 Days of Mayhem: Beach Photo Shoot

Here are some of the best pictures from our quick photo shoot while at the beach.  Mom likes to have a picture of all five of the grandkids to hang in her living room and needed a new one.  For 20 or so minutes of our time and a novice photographer (me), I'd say they turned out pretty good.

My Nephew Zander



Photo Credit to Charlotte
My Sister Sherri and Zander

Mom, I have not forgotten that I need to send these to you.  I have not been anywhere to get a flash drive.  Will hopefully do that this weekend.

I think there are two more 30 Days of Mayhem posts (I found pictures of things I haven't posted yet) then I really am done.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Tacky Tourist Picture

My dear, wonderful husband may have rolled his eyes when he caught saw me purchasing this family picture at the NC Aquarium.  I knew he would but I wanted it as a memory of our crazy 30 Days of Mayhem.  I paid the extra $5 to have both the digital and printed copies of the photos.  This might just be the tackiest of the bunch but I love it!

I bought these pictures so that I could put one in a frame somewhere in our house as it has all six of us in it.  We don't get a lot of pictures of all six of us.  All four of the kids, sure.  The kids and Michael, sure.  Occasionally me and the kids.  But I'm usually the one behind the camera or the one shying away from having my photo taken.  I want to remember being silly and having fun with my kids.  And I want them to remember me doing those things as well.

When I looked at this picture today, I realized that it told an even bigger travel picture than being part of 30 Days of Mayhem.  Michael is wearing a Camel City Goods t-shirt.  I bought it last November when I was in Winston-Salem (Camel City) before heading off to quilt retreat with my mom.  For those of you who don't know, Winston-Salem is Camel City as it is the home of RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company - the maker of Camel Cigarettes.  I grew up on a tobacco farm and both my parents worked and retired from Reynolds - I even worked there a summer. We won't get into a smoking debate, we will just notice that this is nostalgic for me.  Rehm is wearing one of his uniform shirts from his trip to Sea Base in the Bahamas with his Boy Scout troop.  Ruby is sporting the 30 Days of Mayhem trip shirt, she might be my favorite child for that.  Charlotte is wearing her Hamilton t-shirt that she bought in NYC a block from the theater.  It represents the trip but also something she is currently passionate about.  Eliza Claire is wearing a Mickey shirt that I made for our 2015 trip to Disney World.  Another great family trip with lots of family bonding and good memories.  Then there's me.  I just wanted to be comfortable.

So yeah, it is a tacky touristy over priced picture, but when I look at it, I hear a story that weaves through the years and interest of my family.  And well its just funny because its tacky.

Yes, I will eventually quit writing about this crazy trip of ours, but I make no promises on when,

30 Days of Mayhem: Retrospective

So we've had a bit of time to get away from each other.  Yes, we have spent a lot of time in our own rooms or at least in different rooms.  I, for one, have spent more time than usual in my room with the door closed.  I'll blame the door being closed on Ramona. She likes to chase the cats.  Its just easier to keep them separated.

My house is a disaster, still.  I think most of the suitcases have been unpacked.  They might have all been unpacked at this point, I honestly don't know.  The cooking box is still sitting on the dining room table as I haven't wanted to tackle it.  I really just don't know where many of those items are going to go and have not wanted to figure it out yet.  And then there is the stack of mail.  I have not been through all of it yet.  Bad, I know.  Good thing all the bills are paid electronically.

Now for the fun stuff.

1. What was your favorite place we visited?
Michael: Niagara Falls, Ellis Island and the Smithsonian American History Museum.  Niagara Falls was just cool with the volume and power.  Ellis Island because of the stories from the immigrants and thinking about grandparents coming through those very buildings.  American History Museum because it was full of cool stuff.
Rehm: NYC and DC.  I just kind of liked seeing places I had heard of before and seeing them in person was kind of cool.  And just getting to see some of the places where some of the most important decisions in the world are made and where some of the best television is made I though was really cool.
Charlotte: NYC.  (She didn't tell me more because she is telling me by text but she liked it best because there is so much Alexander Hamilton history there and because she got to see the theater where it is playing.) 
Ruby: Niagara Falls because it was beautiful
Eliza Claire: Niagara Falls and the Beach.  They felt the calmest to me.
Jenn: Connecticut.  I would love to go back there and spend a couple of weeks.  What a lovely state with beautiful scenery.  And our hosts, were the best!  Thanks Beth, Chuck and Andy. If I went back, I would want to do some day trips or mini trips to Boston, Vermont and Maine.  Niagara Falls, again gorgeous.  I love nature.  It was just mind boggling to watch. Pine Knoll Shores.  Nature again.  My most favorite place on earth.  If I could live anywhere, it would be PKS.

2. What was your least favorite place?
Michael: Times Square because we were tired and it was so crowded.
Rehm: Nashville.  I didn't think it was as interesting as everywhere else. 
Charlotte: The Crater of the Diamonds in Arkansas (Did you read that as Ar- Kansas?)
Ruby: New York City because it was crowded. It was cool.  I might want to go back eventually?
Eliza Claire: The Van.
Jenn: I think Arkansas. Maybe its because we lost the piece to the Instant Pot there.  Or maybe its because it was 10 million degrees when we were mining for diamonds and we didn't find any diamonds.  I don't know.  I would go back in the fall or spring, given the opportunity and try again.  I feel bad saying I didn't like it and I think it really was the weather more than anything.

3. What is something unexpected you liked about the trip?
Michael: How well the Roku worked. How much fun it was to cook in hotel rooms.  (He didn't do any of the actual cooking)
Rehm: I didn't think I'd like Connecticut as much as I did but I liked it a lot, especially all the nuclear submarine stuff.
Charlotte: Family time.  (I honestly don't know if this is Charlotte's answer to this question or the next.  She is answering via text.  I sent her three questions, she sent back two responses.  I'm guessing this is where this response goes.  It was either here or her favorite thing about the trip. I'll insert another answer here for Charlotte as well - Dramamine.  She loved being able to sleep in the van, not getting car sick, and not getting bored.  She probably loved the lack of boredom the most.)
Ruby: The fireworks in DC.  I kind of liked it with the cloud.  It was neat to get a different experience.
Eliza Claire: I didn't realized that we were as busy as we are when we are home - I liked that we got to spend a lot of time together.  
Jenn: I had really low expectations for the trip.  I really thought there would be more fighting and complaining than there was.  I also thought I would go crazy not having any alone time.  I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly things went and how much we all enjoyed it.  It was not nearly as stressful as I anticipated. Wow, don't I sound like the most pessimistic person ever? I liked how well everyone adapted and did what was needed to make the trip a success.

4. What was your favorite thing about the trip?
Michael: Getting to see so many cool things all together with all six of us.
Rehm: Seeing all the places I'd like to work or intern later in life, or possibly go to college.
Charlotte: See Charlotte's #3 answer.  She would not go back and answer more.  I said I would make up her answers for the ones she did not answer.  I'm going with her Hamilton shirt.  Seeing the Theater where it is playing.  She would be very annoyed that I do not know the name of the theater.  I could look it up.  But if she would have answered the question this would not be an issue.  Oh well.  And in general all things realating to Alexander Hamilton and the Revolution in any way shape or form were her favorites, made her light up, and start talking 90 miles an hour.
Ruby: Riding the boat into the Falls
Eliza Claire:  I liked playing dominoes in NC at the beach even though it was very loud and crazy because it was fun.
Jenn: Visiting with friends and family. It was so great to get to see friends and family we don't get to see frequently and to meet friends that I have known for 17+ years but never met in person. Relationships are so important to me and this was the highlight of my trip. The other thing that I loved and truly humbled me was the hospitality shown to our family by our friends and family. It is no small task to host a family of six and some many people went out of their way to do just that!  It left me complete speechless, grateful and awed.  The other thing that stands out as a favorite was sitting around the table having dinner and playing dominoes in our apartment on Staten Island.  It is such a treat to spend time all of us in one place that doing so while doing something so typical was just pure joy and a real highlight of the trip.

5. What is something you learned about yourself on the trip?
Michael: How nice it is to be unplugged from all work stuff. 
Rehm: I don't do well being with my family for 30 days straight, in close proximity. (He did great, he just didn't like it)
Charlotte: I need some wind down time
Ruby: I can't eat hotel biscuits and gravy for breakfast or I get car sick.  And I like marshmallows in my yogurt. (Breakfast in Niagara Falls had yogurt with lots of toppings)
Eliza Claire: I learned that I can get homesick.
Jenn: I really can spend this much time in small places with people and not explode.  It was close,but I did it.

6. Would you want to do a trip like this again?
Michael: Hesitant Yes - but it is a really long time to be away from the house.  Might prefer one or two smaller trips over the same time frame.
Rehm: possibly.  In five years? Yeah, sure.
Charlotte: Yes, I would think you were insane if you asked me this for real but eventually I would decided I wanted to go
Ruby: How soon? Not as big.  
Eliza Claire: Yes!
Jenn: Absolutely, with out a doubt, in a heartbeat! But please not this summer.

7. If, so where would you want to go next time?
Michael: I guess the Rocky Mountains or Europe
Rehm: More big cities - LA, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Las Vegas
Charlotte: The west half of the country
Ruby: I don't care.  Anywhere.
Eliza Claire: Chicago, Oregon 
Jenn: Great Britain and Europe or Australia - so not happening but a girl can dream.

8. Is there anything else you want to say about the experience?
Michael: I was impressed overall with how well everyone coped with stuff. And all the cool things Jennifer could do to keep it running smooth (I'm just typing - he really did say that).
Rehm: America is pretty big and pretty diverse.
Charlotte: Next time we need to be better prepared for problems with the cooking and bring extra parts for anything that can break or come off of the Instant Pot.  I liked the way this trip was planned.  I liked that we had a plan of places to go but that there was flexibility in the plan as well.  
Ruby: It was really fun.   
Eliza Claire: I was very lucky to get to do this with my family.  
Jenn: I am so very glad we did this.  It was crazy and daunting to think about and plan.  We all went into it with a bit of trepidation, though I do think Michael and I did a good job of selling it to the kids.  My goal for this trip was to create lifelong family memories for us and we definitely did that.  The other goal was to give the kids a taste of many different places and experiences.  There is so much more we could have done in each and every location but that was not the goal.  The goal was to whet their appetite for travel and adventure and doing things that seem a bit crazy and impossible and that sometimes feel a bit scary (but not left on the subway scary).  I'd say we succeed on all counts.  

And that friends concludes 30 Days of Mayhem,
Reveille Rider over and out

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What is it They Say about Necessity and Invention?

Maybe in my case today it wasn't so much necessity as laziness.  I'll go with necessity and thinking outside the box though.

I have been working since we got home from 30 Days of Mayhem to get the new to me car titled and registered in Texas.  Today, I finally had all the documents and signatures needed to make it happen.  About the time I walked in the Tax Assessors office it occurred to me that I planned to mail the NC plates currently on the car back to my mom on my way home.  I did not bring a screw driver along to change said plates.  I decided to have a Scarlet moment and worry about it once I had the plates in my hand as I half expected to find out there was some hoop I had not jumped through that would prevent me from getting them today.

I only had to wait about 15 minutes to see the nice lady who could grant my wish of making my car a Texan.  Shockingly, I had everything needed and I walked out with Texas plates.  I still had no screw driver.  I stood in the parking lot and debated my options, for all of about 15 seconds.  I could drive home, change the plates and drive back to the post office that is maybe a half a mile from where I was currently standing.  I could run in the drug store across the street an buy a cheap screw driver that I would never use again.  I could go to the post office and hope I could use a coin or key to get the plates changed.  I chose option three.

You get lots of comments, offers of help and strange looks when you sit on the ground in a dress in the parking lot at the post office changing license plates on your car with a quarter.  I did have multiple people ask if I needed help.  I'll choose to believe they meant with changing the plates and not mental help.  The good news is it worked!  The NC plates are now on their way back to, well NC. They should even arrive a couple of days before they expire at the end of the month.

Note to self.  It might not be a bad idea to put a screw driver in the car.  You never know when you might need it.  But in a pinch a quarter isn't a bad substitute.

Jenn - the Improviser

Monday, July 25, 2016

Movie Day with the Kids

Today I took the kiddos to see Finding Dori.  We don't have Charlotte with us this week.  She is at the beach with friends of ours, helping out with their daughter.  I know she is having a blast.  I'm starting to miss her.  I felt a bit guilty for going to see the movie without her.  Then I realized she was at the beach without us and got over my guilt.

All four of us loved the movie.  It was especially awesome to watch my oldest enjoy the movie.  He likes to act like he is too old for things like Disney/Pixar movies these days but he laughed his way through the whole movie.

I remember taking him to see Finding Nemo.  I'm thinking it was his first Disney movie in the theater. I was very pregnant with Charlotte at the time.  Michael and I both accompanied him to see it.  I was in that stage where I was feeling very guilty about impending arrival of his sibling (we did not know her gender at that point - we wanted to be surprised).  I was realizing how many things were not going to revolve around my cute, chubby, blond, blue-eyed baby boy.  He was so excited about the baby in Mommy's tummy and blissfully unaware.  He loved the movie.  He has always loved everything about the ocean.  When it was over we went directly to the Disney store and bought him a Finding Nemo lunch box and matching back pack for preschool.  I don' t think they were even on sale yet!  Yep!  Total guilt.  It made me feel a tiny bit better about rocking his world.

Today, we did not buy him or even his sisters Finding Dori school supplies, but we did enjoy the movie and I loved the memories that came with it.

I was just looking for some pictures of toddler Rehm to add to the post.  My Winkflash account is completely and totally empty!  I have all of the pictures on a thumb drive somewhere and maybe a external harddrive but Winkflash wasn't supposed to delete photos and they did.  Ugh!  Oh well.  I guess toddler Rehm pictures will have to wait.  And I guess that means when I get them uploaded again I need to print them somewhere to be on the safe side.  You know, I really needed another thing to add to my to do list.  Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!  For the time being you'll just have to believe me that he was really cute.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Day 30 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Trip Home

First and foremost, the math geeks didn't count their days properly and technically there will be 31 Days of Mayhem since we don't arrive home until tomorrow.  I can already tell you which of my friends and family will have something to say about the miscount.  I'm not sure how much I count today and tomorrow as they are just straight up travel days with no sight seeing.  But they count as you have to have them to get home.  At least one of of my kids has wished that we had a teleporter to get us home as the two full days of driving are not anyone's favorite.  At least they are at the end of the trip and were preceded by a week at the beach.  It makes it easier to stomach.

Yesterday's activities

We are going home in two cars instead of one.  Mom purchased a new car.  She's talked about it for a while.  I didn't think she was actually going to do it.  I thought she would talk about it a while longer but she did.  It is a cute cross over that she has named Ruby as it is red.  So we are now the proud owners of a 2001 (?) PT Cruiser.  Of course, that means getting the Cruiser to Texas, which means two drivers, which means Michael was not the only one with a long day of driving today. We split into a boy car and girl car today.

It was amazing how much less drama there was with everyone having more room in the car.  Eliza Claire took the back row, Ruby the middle, and Charlotte rode shotgun.  I expected Charlotte to get bored at some point.  She did nap for a couple of hours, I think through South Carolina, otherwise she did a great job of keeping me company and getting things when needed.  She got very tired of my constant requests for chapstick, or lip balm as Ruby calls it.  I'm pretty sure my lips are sunburned.  They hurt!  I was applying chapstick at least every 30 minutes, when Charlotte was awake.

Today's activities

We listened to the entire Hamilton soundtrack.  I asked lots of questions.  Charlotte patiently answered all of them, even the ones I know I've asked before.  We also discussed George Washington at length as she is currently reading his almost 1000 page biography!  We talked about some of the inappropriate lyrics and topics in Hamilton (cuss words, affairs).  We did a bit of a retrospective of 30 Days of Mayhem.

Some of the questions asked:

  1. What was your favorite place we visited?
  2. What was your least favorite place?
  3. What is something unexpected you liked about the trip?
  4. What was your favorite thing about the trip?
  5. What is something you learned about yourself on the trip?
  6. Would you want to do a trip like this again?
  7. If, so where would you want to go next time?
I want to get all six of us to answer these questions and probably a few more before I share the answers.  Hopefully that will happen sometime this coming week.

I was dreading the drive today but it really was not bad.  Here's hoping tomorrow goes as smoothly as today.  

States visited so far:  19, I think.  Even with the map out I'm not sure I've counted right.

I'm off to get some sleep before our 11+ hour drive tomorrow.  Here's hoping we get a nice early start. 
Jenn - AKA Reveille Driver

Friday, July 15, 2016

Day 29 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Still at the Beach

Wow!  How is it already Day 29?  I'm not ready for 30 Days of Mayhem to be over.  What at the onset seemed like a crazy, undoable, insane plan is coming to an end and I'm not ready.  I guess that means it was a good vacation and planned well.  If we were ready for it to end it would be a bad thing.

We are all excited about getting home to our own rooms.  Everyone has pretty much said they are not leaving their rooms for at least a week.  As of yesterday, I found myself reengaging and starting to think about what needs to get done when I get home, what appointments need to be made, what errands need to be run.  I don't like that part of vacation, it makes vacation feel over before it is.  

I'm sure I'll write more later but right now I'm going to head outside and enjoy our last day at my favorite place on earth with my favorite people on earth.


PS.  Did you notice the new header?

Friday, July 08, 2016

I Don't Know What to Say or How to Help

Y'all I am just sick and heartbroken at what is going on in our country.  I do not understand.  It is not OK that African American men keep getting killed by police officers.  Its not OK that minorities are stopped more and treated differently during those stops.  Its not OK that when charged with the same crimes that minorities get stiffer sentences.  It is not OK!  Its not!  What do we do?  What do I do as a white woman raising white children?  How can I be part of the solution, not part of the problem?

My heart is heavy and it hurts.  I have tried to raise my children to know that everyone is equal, that race, skin color, sexual orientation do not matter or change a person in any way. But it is not enough.  It was a start, but it is not enough. So I'm reaching out, I'm asking the question.  How do we do better?  How do we make change?  How do we stop the violence?  How can we all come together and help each other?


Day 21 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Walkertown

Today was another low key day.  We went out for breakfast.  Then split up.  Mom, Sherri and I ran a few errands while Michael, Dad and the kids headed home (or so I thought). One of the errands on the ladies list was to get a pedicure.  Traveling has completely wrecked havoc on my feet.  I will spare you the detail and just say the pedicure was a must and overdue.

While waiting for our toes to dry I received the following text and pictures from Michael.

If you look really closely you can see the"fish" in the crack between Rehm's two hands

So they did not go straight home. They took a detour to Fourth of July Park, which is an awesome local park that we have to visit at least once while we are here.  The funny thing is after all that work, Michael did not take them to get ice cream cones because they didn't actually catch fish.  He did tell them he would get a container of ice cream and they could have some for dessert after dinner.

After dinner another crazy game of dominoes ensued.  Capped off with a game of Greenie Weenie.  For those unfamiliar with this, it is basically a game to get all the dominoes back in the box and is very similar to Old Maid.  The double blank is the greenie weenie.  For some reason I can never remember the name of the game and call it the Stinky Pickle.  Eliza Claire who is an excellent game player has managed to get stuck with the greenie weenie every time we have played this game.  I know it is a game of luck.  For my very competitive child she has taken it surprisingly well.

Ice cream was finally had by all and everyone was sent to bed.  We had some who is sleeping where drama.  This has happened about once a week on the trip.  It is actually surprising it has not happened more.  Last night Ruby and Eliza were deciding who go the air mattress and who was sharing the bed with Charlotte.  Their bargaining chip was who got to share a bed with me next week at the beach.  It took about 30 minutes and a private talk with each of them to get it all worked out and everyone settled for the night. It is never a dull moment.


Thursday, July 07, 2016

Day 19 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Washing DC to Walkertown, NC

Travel day! Yippee!  The kids so look forward to these days.  I wish I was telling the truth.  Travel days are dreaded days.  The only good thing about them is they are somewhat rest days, well once all the packing and loading is done.  But given that there are six of us the packing and loading is no small chore.

We all slept in as we had a full, if somewhat disappointing previous day.  No, no one is still bitter or holding a grudge.  While we were getting ready, eating breakfast and packing up Cathi and Griffin were nice and drove over to visit with us and keep us company.

We so enjoyed spending time with our Chicago Maham family.  We love spending time with them.  It worked out great that Griffin finished up at the Summit Boy Scout Camp right before we hit DC and gave us an excuse to all meet up and hang out for a few days.  I wanted to get to the Chicago area as part of 30 Days of Mayhem but there were too many stops and not enough days and Chicago was too far west.  Hmmm.  We will have to figure out a time to get up there soon.  February break might not be long enough to drive up, visit and get back without missing a few days of school.  We'll have to give that some thought.  Though the Chicago Mahams may not want the Maniacs to descend on them and if not, I can understand.  We are kind of a whole lot of crazy.

Oh where was I?  Packing up, tired, travel day, disappointed still from Firework Fiasco of 2016 - ok that might be a little dramatic, I'm starting to sound like one or two of my daughters.  Anyway.  We get in the car and Michael and I quietly have a conversation about possibly altering the plan and going straight to my parents' house and skipping Monticello and UVA.  I had seen both before, Michael had not.  After discussion, we decided to see what the kids thought.  Two really wanted to go, two did not.  They were not really any help.  Actually that is not true.

Guess which two wanted to go and why?  Eliza Claire was a definite "Yes!" and so was Charlotte.  Eliza Claire always wants to do anything and everything and never miss out on any opportunity.  Her answer is always "yes."  The only thing I can think of off the top of my head she would say "no" to is zip lining.  She thinks it sounds too dangerous.  But typically she is up for any outing. Charlotte wanted to go because she is currently reading a Thomas Jefferson biography.  Why? Because she has already read Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and George Washington ones. So of course, she is reading Jefferson's.  Actually, I just asked which ones she had read so far and she has now finished Jefferson's and is on to Madison's!  This is my child that does not like history!  And in the last few months has read all these biographies! All because of the Hamilton musical.

The final decision was to proceed as planned.  We didn't want to regret being so close and not going once we had had some rest.  First we had to make a stop at Walmart to purchase new air mattresses.  Remember we had one spring a leak on our first night in Arkansas (Ar- Kansas  as Charlotte says)?  Well, the other one sprung a leak our last night in DC.  I was fed up with the kids ruining air mattresses so I bought the absolute cheapest ones I could find and a separate air pump.

It seemed to take for ever to get to Monticello.  It was around 3:00 when we finally got there.  Ruby decided she did NOT want to do the tour/visit.  She was determined and there was going to be no changing her mind.  I agreed to stay with her as I had been there 20+ years before.  That way everyone who wanted to see it and had not done so previously would be able to do so.

Michael went to purchase tickets and learned that the next tour was at 4:40.  He came back sans tickets as he did not think anyone wanted to wait that long.  He, Rehm, Charlotte and Eliza Claire decided to walk up to the house to see the outside but just skip the tour.  Ruby and I decided to check out the gift shop.

While hanging out in the gift shop, I decided I could go ahead and buy a Christmas ornament from there so we would not have to take time to do it after the rest of the family returned.  That has been our go to souvenir on this trip.  Actually that tradition started long before this trip.  It started on our honeymoon.  Most places we go that we decided we would like to have a souvenir from, we get an ornament.  It is nice because every year at Christmas we get the reminder of all the fun places we've been.

About an hour later Michael and the kids came back.  They were hot and sweaty.  I asked how it was.  They had not seen anything yet!  They took a wrong turn and had been on a nice, hot hike through the woods.  They left again.  Ruby and I went back in the gift shop and found a cool place to sit and wait.  About 10 minutes later everyone was back again.

You can't even get up the hill to where you can see the house from the outside with out a ticket!  So now the four of them had walked a bunch, gotten sweaty and tired and not seen anything.  We had driven out of our way and we had a great souvenir of a house, they never saw.  Yes, it is hilarious.  And we will get to talk about it all every time we put that ornament on the Christmas tree every year.  Eliza Claire will get to lament about two back to back days of disappointment and disillusionment.  Won't it be awesome?

We did go drive around UVA.  It was beautiful.  Everyone was duly impressed. I don't think Rehm said he could/would consider going to school there, but he was impressed with the sports facilities.  Though the law buildings underwhelmed him as they all looked like they were built in the 70s.

At dinner time Michael informed the kids we were stopping to get dinner.

Charlotte:  What do you mean 'stopping?' You mean like we are stopping at a grocery store and Mom is going in to get stuff?

Michael:  No, we are stopping at a restaurant and buying food that has already been cooked!

Charlotte:  Seriously?  Are you sure?  Is this a joke?  This better not be a joke!

We stopped at Bo 'Jangles, a Rehm favorite.  He had already informed me when we left Charlottesville that we were in Bo 'Jangles territory.

We got to Walkertown around 9:00 pm.  Yippee!  Nowhere to be for a few days.  Just time to visit and relax.


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Day 18 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Washington DC Thrice

Cool, wet, rainy.  This pretty much sums up the day.  The positives are that it did not storm, it was not hot, it was not as crowded as it could have been.

Today we took the Metro in to DC.  All of us were a bit gun shy after the near-fiasco in NYC.  But DC in general is pastoral compared to NYC.  Planning wise having DC right on the heels of NYC was not the best choice due to the amount of walking and site seeing we did/were planning for each city.  However, having them back to back was perfect as it made DC feel spacious and sparsely populated after a couple of days in NYC.  I was much more relaxed with the kids, crowds and city in DC thanks to the training/experience of NYC.  I'm babbling, but I don't feel like I'm adequately conveying what a blessing this was.  If we had just come to DC, we would have thought it crowded but we didn't because of our stop in NYC first.

The Metro was easy to use and everyone did great.  When we got to our stop, Michael told everyone it was time to get off the train.  All four of the the children stopped in their tracks and did not move.  He repeated that we needed to get off.  They did not move.  I said, "I'll go first" and stepped off the train, they all fell in line behind me.  None of them were going to step foot off of a train without a parent on the landing. NYC made an impression.

We walked out of the Metro station, got to the corner and encountered a parade.  We watched it for a bit and then headed for the Mall to scope out the crowds and a spot for the day.

Watching the parade
There were very few people set up on the mall so we picked a great spot and set up our stuff.  We brought a couple of chairs and several backpacks with all of our food, water and beach blanket.

When it was time to eat lunch we discovered the bacon, broccoli ranch pasta salad had been left in the fridge.  We made do with sandwich fixings and snacks.

I sat with our stuff while everyone came and went to different museums.  Parts of the day it drizzled, parts it misted, there were a few heavy rains - those were pretty miserable, and parts there was nothing falling from the sky.

Rehm and Charlotte went to the Newseum with Cathi, Marc and Griffin.  Michael, Ruby and Eliza Claire went back to the American History Museum to explore more.  Griffin and Rehm walked to the Capitol and a few other places,

The kids joined in dancing with a group of strangers to YMCA, and the Cha-Cha Slide.  The are now ready to attend wedding receptions for the next 10 years.

Finally, it stopped raining and it was getting close to firework time.  About 15 minutes before the fireworks started, some low clouds rolled in and blocked the view of the top of the Washington Monument. Unfortunately, the clouds did not roll out.

The firework show happened.  We had perfect seats.  The low fireworks were gorgeous.  The high ones, made the clouds pretty colors...It was frustrating.  Having seen the DC fireworks on TV in years past, I knew what we were missing.  I kept thinking, I can't believe they are spending all this money on fireworks we can't see!  It was very anti-climatic, but better than sitting in the rain all day to have them cancelled.

We headed to the Metro station.  On the walk back to the Metro poor Eliza Claire cried and cried.  She is not a fan of fireworks due to the noise they make.  They scare her as she can not always anticipate when the noises will happen.  She had gotten prepared for a major firework show and endured the noise of it, without the reward of an awe inspiring display. All the anxiety and frustration came out over the course of the walk.

 It was crowded walking back to the Metro but not crazy.  The first train on our route was full but the second one we got on with no problem - with all of our kids.  And yes, they made a parent get on first and last with them sandwiched in between.

We got back to Jennifer and Bill's around 11:00, maybe 11:30.

Happy Independence Day!